Two thirds of people living in the UK affected by dementia are women. This is an issue that disproportionately affects women, and many research papers state that most family carers and those paid to care for people with dementia are also women.
But what do we really know about the experiences of women affected by dementia?
How are their experiences of dementia shaped by their experiences of being women?
The website, www.dementiawomen.org.uk is a platform in which women affected by dementia can tell their stories which will be developed into a display and resources. The voices of the women involved in this project will hopefully initiate a debate and open up discussions around the lives of women affected by dementia.
The core of this debate will be the real lived experiences of the women who are helping with the project, but people with an interest in the topic can help to spread the debate to cover as many areas of interest as possible. People from all walks of life can help to amplify the voices of the women in the project.
Gill Drummond, the Dementia Lead for GMW, has contributed an article for the website, concerning the different experiences of three women who acted as carers for their husbands with dementia. http://www.dementiawomen.org.uk/opus41.html
It is interesting to consider the power dynamics between husband and wife, and how these changed when the husband had to be cared for. The effect which dementia can have on the carer’s physical and mental health can be significant, and it is important for the carer to find out where there is a network that can support them.
The advice given by the women is vital for people to share if they are affected by dementia, such as having a sense of humour to diffuse tense and stressful situations, and also to take one day at a time.
This issue affects a large amount of people in the UK and it can be difficult for anyone to take on the new role of carer, especially after previously being supported by their partner, family or friend. People need to talk about this issue, and learn from others experiences, in order to form a network to support those affected.
GMW run several courses, such as Living Well with Dementia, which aims to provide you with facts about dementia, common symptoms, treatments available, and techniques that will help you to cope with the effects of dementia.
Dementia Friends is another course, which aims to raise awareness about dementia and how it affects people, as well as the practical actions that Dementia Friends can take that could help someone with dementia living in their community.
GMW also run a new course specifically on Women and Mental Health which raises awareness of the specific issues that can affect women’s mental health, and explores the different ways you can help protect your mental health and support women in their recovery journey.
For more information, view the Recovery Academy’s prospectus on our website: http://www.gmmh.nhs.uk/recovery
The Women and dementia project is funded by Joseph Rowntree Foundation as part of their Dementia Without Walls programme. It is run jointly by Innovations in Dementia CIC and the Social Policy Research Unit at the University of York.